Place and Cultural Capital: Art Museum Visitors Across Space

Laurie Hanquinet


In the establishment of people’s lifestyles, places, and especially cities, have
become central arenas for display and consumption, and have become part of
the aesthetic experience itself. These changes have affected the composition of
cultural capital, which may have then taken an urban dimension. Art museum
visitors, often associated with highbrow culture, constitute an excellent case study
to explore the links between cultural capital and place. Based on a survey of 1900
visitors of the six main museums of modern and contemporary art in Belgium,
this article will focus on the distribution of the audience characterized by their
cultural tastes and activities across the Belgian territory (through their postcodes).
It shows that visitors mainly come from areas with high and moderate density
and that the socio-demographic but also urban characteristics of their place of
residence can be related to the way visitors’ cultural capital is composed. Yet,
it also suggests that places like cities (just like museums) form meeting places,
in which co-exist and interact different stories, different trajectories and, as this
article shows, a multiplicity of lifestyles.
Keywords: Museum visitors; Pierre Bourdieu; cultural capital; audiences; Belgium.

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Copyright (c) 2017 Laurie Hanquinet

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Museum and Society

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